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Can I Be Forced to Take a Drug Test for Marijuana When I Apply for a Job?

THC Chemical FormulaMarijuana Drug Tests and Job Applications

Marijuana laws have begun to shift in recent years. Not only does this affect how use of the drug is handled in general when it comes to legal issues, it also means employers must alter their approach to marijuana use by employees.

However, just because the use of a drug is legal doesn’t mean you can use it as you please while on the job. Alcohol is another example of a legal drug that can still be regulated in the workplace. It’s perfectly legal to consume alcohol if you are of age, but employees are free to set their own restrictions regarding alcohol consumption when someone is working.

Marijuana use is likely headed in a similar direction and is already there in some places.

What should you know about marijuana use and the workplace?

Can a Potential Employer Force You to Take a Marijuana Drug Test?

Not if you’re applying for a job in New York City.

Many New York City employees are prohibited from conducting marijuana tests on potential employees. This is the case regardless of what stage of hiring an applicant might be in.

Marijuana testing is not permitted whether or not an employee has received an official offer for employment. The same restrictions apply regarding drug testing whether or not a potential employee has a medical certificate for marijuana use or not.

The city leads the way when it comes to altering its laws to reflect the nation’s changing drug use laws.

According to a law passed by the New York City Council and affirmed through inaction by Mayor Bill de Blasio, it became illegal as of May 10, 2020, to drug test potential employees for marijuana use. Labor organizations and employment agencies are also barred from requiring applicant marijuana testing.

There are some exceptions included in the ban on marijuana testing. For example, testing is still permitted when someone is applying for a job:

  • In law enforcement
  • In construction
  • Requiring the supervision of children, medical patients, or other vulnerable groups
  • With the “potential to significantly impact the health or safety of employees or members of the public,” as determined by rules promulgated by the City

The ban also does not override several existing requirements regarding marijuana testing found in:

  • State, local, or Department of Transportation regulations
  • Some federal contracts
  • Regulations in place due to safety and security
  • Requirements of valid collective bargaining agreements

Employers are encouraged to review their existing drug testing policies for employees and potential employees.

A primary concern for employers that conduct pre-employment drug testing is that testing companies will not adjust their tests to no longer include marijuana. If a company’s standard practice was to complete a comprehensive drug test before employment that the company will need to notify the testing company this is no longer required and/or permitted. It’s important that employers not “accidentally” test potential employees due to lagging practices.

It is expected that more states will follow suit and implement less restrictive laws regarding marijuana use in the workplace. New York City led the way.

If you’d like to read more about changing laws regarding workplace drug testing check out this information from The Balance. To learn more about drug laws in New York State, visit the Drug Policy Alliance.

For more information or to speak to someone about drug testing in the workplace, contact Borrelli & Associates, P.L.L.C.


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